Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has warned a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to stop mentioning his name in the controversial $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal.
Olusegun Obasanjo said he considered the controversial award of OPL 245 oil field licence as the “height of corruption,” and could not have participated in negotiations that led to the deal The rebuttal came over twenty-four hours after Adoke distributed excerpts of a petition he sent to incumbent Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleging victimization and persecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the illegal deal.
He also alleged that Obasanjo gave approval for return of the oil bloc to Malabu through his then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Edmund Daukoru. But dismissing this in an interview with online portal, Premium Times, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday, Obasanjo said: “I don’t support that kind of conduct.” Obasanjo, who clocked 80 earlier this month, admonished Mr. Adoke to concentrate on rendering accounts of his actions while in public service and stop dropping his name in the matter, saying he didn’t give any such approval. “Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about. If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honourably. They should not bring Obasanjo into an Etete deal. I was not part of any such deal,” he said.
The former President said it was inappropriate for any government functionary to “appropriate to himself or herself what he or she is in charge of.” “If I hold that view, I could not have approved a deal with Dan Etete. What Etete did is the height of corruption. He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally. I can’t remember giving approval that the bloc be given back to Etete,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
Bayo Ojo, Daukoru can shed more light He challenged anyone to produce proof that he took part in returning the oil field to Malabu, saying the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under his administration, Mr. Ojo, and Mr. Edmund Daukoru, who was Minister of Petroleum Resources, might be in a better position to explain what actually transpired. “We gave it back to Malabu? On what ground? Do you have any such evidence? Ask Bayo Ojo and Edmund Daukoru what really happened because the stand I took at the time was unassailable. “If Daukoru has evidence that I approved that the bloc be given back to Malabu or Etete, let him produce it. “If it is proven that I, indeed, approved the deal, I will be willing to apologize to Nigerians. But we have to get to the bottom of it all,” the former President said.
Obasanjo said he doubted the integrity of the letters that emanated from Daukoru, now a traditional ruler in Bayelsa, which purported that he approved the return of the bloc to Malabu Oil. The Malabu oil scandal had been a recurring issue for close to two decades, with several top government officials fingered in the deal. Also, Dutch oil giant, Shell, and Italian oil major, Eni, also had their names thrown up by Italian investigators probing the deal.
The investigators suggested that one of Adoke’s associates, one Mr. Abubakar, might have acted as a front for some officials of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, including Mr. Adoke. Shell, Eni, Mr. Adoke and Mr. Dan Etete, who initially approved the lease award of the OPL 245 while Etete was petroleum minister in 1998, have all denied wrongdoings. But Italian prosecutors said late last year they had enough grounds to charge Shell, Eni, and their executives alongside Nigerians involved in the controversial deal for fraud in Milan.
In separate charges filed late 2016, the EFCC accused Mr. Adoke and Mr. Etete of defrauding Nigeria in the OPL 245 deal Government in January 2016, repossessed the lucrative oil. The federal government in January 2016, repossessed the oil bloc, which is believed to hold about nine billion barrels of crude oil and even larger quantity of natural gas. Efforts made to reach former Petroleum Resources Minister, His Royal Highness, Edmund Daukoru, at press time yesterday proved abortive, as several telephones calls and text messages made to his lines were not replied. Similarly. Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, could not also be reached at press time.
Adoke had in his petition sent to the AGF three days after the EFCC slammed fresh charges of money laundering against him and one of his associates, Aliyu Abubakar, accusing him of sharing millions of dollars in the fraudulent proceed, said: “I believe it is your responsibility to explain to the public who are being sold a fiction that the transaction started from President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered with Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, as the then Attorney-General who executed the Terms of Settlement before the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement and my humble self who executed the resolution agreements.’’
In the charges filed at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the EFCC said Adoke exchanged more than $2.2 million at a bureau de change in Abuja as part of his share of the controversial $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal. Prosecutors believe Mr. Abubakar , the controversial owner of A.A. Oil Ltd., acted as middleman in the questionable deal. The EFCC said in the court filings that Mr. Adoke took delivery of $2,267,400 on September 16, 2013, and immediately got money changers to convert it to naira. Based on the prevailing exchange rate at the time, Mr. Adoke made N345.2 million after successfully converting the funds.
He subsequently deposited the money into a Unity Bank account to offset an outstanding overdraft of N300 million, court documents showed. But Mr. Adoke denied the allegations, saying the EFCC knew the facts of the case but was deliberately muddling them up to confuse “gullible” Nigerians and malign him. In his petition to Mr. Malami, the former AGF asked his successor to save him from “unwarranted attacks and dehumanising treatment” just because he “chose to serve” his “fatherland.” He told the attorney-general that some other former government officials took part in the controversial deal and gave approvals.
“It will be recalled that the Terms of Settlement encapsulating details of the Settlement between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited (Malabu) was executed on 30th November 2006. “The Terms of Settlement, which was later, reduced into a Consent Judgment of the Federal High Court; Abuja was brokered by our predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN and signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by the then Honourable Minister of State, for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR.”